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Question: Regional Rail

14 June 2023

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:35): It is hard to follow that, but I will try. I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of regional rail.

Leave granted.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I am sorry the Leader of the Opposition is missing it; she would be very interested. In February, the parliamentary inquiry into public and active transport handed down its report. This contains several recommendations related to regional rail, including the incentivisation of passenger rail between Adelaide and Melbourne and the reactivation of rail for passengers and freight in the regions.

The Australian Labor Party recently released its draft National Platform for members ahead of their national conference. In chapter 1 of the document, which is published on the Labor Party's publicly accessible website, it states under sections 54 and 55:

Labor will…continue to invest in faster rail and upgraded rail corridors across the nation. Labor will work with state governments to address regional rail infrastructure needs and will ensure more trains are built in Australia to create skilled manufacturing jobs.

The document also goes on to state that:

Labor will work to ensure the resilience of our supply chain and freight networks, including considering the importance of rail in the movement of freight across Australia.

Given the synergies between the recommendations of this council's committee on public and active transport and the draft ALP National Platform, my questions to the minister are:

1. Has the minister yet read the report of the public and active transport committee, and has she raised the potential for regional rail with her Labor colleagues in the Albanese government in Canberra?

2, What action has she taken to progress the recommendations contained in the select committee report?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:37): I thank the honourable member for his question. I can see that there is a media release imminent from the honourable member, where he will try to get some coverage on the fact that, as Minister for Regional Development, I should be reading the reports of every other portfolio.

It kind of links in a little bit with the question we had from the opposition yesterday, and my comments that there are some who seem to think that, as minister, I should be minister for all the portfolios here. As one of my colleagues said in jest earlier today, perhaps I should be flattered. Perhaps those opposite and perhaps some on the crossbench think that I am so capable that I can actually be across every other minister's portfolio.

That was a light-hearted quip from one of my colleagues. I certainly don't expect or even hold myself out to be able to be across every single other portfolio. If the honourable member and those opposite are interested in the Labor government's response to reports, I am very happy to refer that to the relevant minister in the other place, the Minister for Transport, and bring back a response.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary.

The Hon. H.M. Girolamo interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: We will have a supplementary from the Hon. Mr Simms when the Hon. Ms Girolamo is silent.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:39): Why hasn't the minister read the recommendations relating to the regions contained within the report of the select committee of this chamber, and when will she undertake to read it? How many times have I asked about this?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:39): I again reiterate: we have a collegial team on this side of the chamber. We have portfolio responsibilities. The Minister for Transport is responsible for transport.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:42): Supplementary: has the minister discussed the recommendations of the select committee report with the transport minister in the other place?

The PRESIDENT: Minister, you did talk about the transport minister in the other place in your original answer.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:42): Certainly. I am pleased to be able to say that I have frequent discussions with the transport minister across a range of matters, all of which are always very fruitful.